Homily for 13th Sunday of Year 2005

There are numerous religions and sects. I came across one I had not heard of founded by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff who was born in Armenia 1866 and died in 1949.

Gurdjieff came to set up an organisation whose beliefs encompasses the occult as well as Russian Orthodox religious beliefs. They were esoteric to say the least and he was autocratic. Gurdjieff's basic teaching is that human life is lived in waking sleep. The work of his Institute was to help people transcend that state.

He established the Institute for Harmonious Development of Man in 1919 to carry promote this way of life. Many members came from prominent background and lived a kind of monastic life.

The story is told about one member who was the personification of difficulty – an old man who was irritable and messy, fighting with everyone, and unwilling to clean up or help at all. No one got along with him. Finally, after many frustrating months of trying to stay with the group, the old man left for Paris. Gurdjieff followed him and tried to convince him to return. The man had found life too hard, and he declined the offer. Gurdjieff then offered the man a large monthly stipend if he returned. How could the man refuse such a generous proposition? When he returned everyone was aghast, and on hearing that he was being paid (while they had to pay to be part of the community), the community was up in arms. Gurdjieff called them together and after hearing their complaints laughed and explained: 'This man is like yeast for bread. Without him here you would never really learn about anger, irritability, patience, and compassion. That is why you pay me, and why I hire him.'

I don't think it is always like that! We usually don't have to pay for our crosses. They come unasked! Sometimes we are not able to learn about patience and compassion. Sometimes we can be destroyed by people. Yet we need relationships with other people to grow and learn and we certainly need other people to learn how to die to oneself.

At a recent Liturgy meeting with Erica Marshall (the Deanery liturgical resource person) we discussed the Rite of Baptism of infants and its relationship to the Rite for Adults. At the heart of preparing for baptism for adults as well as children is relationships.

Establishing a relationship with those seeking to join the Church is crucial. It is at the heart of all our ministry: Evangelisation or catechesis. They all involve first of all that hospitable attitude that alone can help people take the next step into the Body of Christ, the Church. As people come closer to the community they come closer to Christ. This must happen before any formal learning takes place. Through the simplest of human interaction we plow the field for the seeds of faith to take root and grow.

The Gospel today is the conclusion of Jesus teaching the disciples in Matthew chapter 10 for their mission. Here he spells out the cost of that discipleship. Relationship with Christ must come first. It does sound harsh at first. Whoever loves family more than Christ is not worthy of him. Yet in the next paragraph he speaks of how we are to welcome one another even the least, even a baby. To welcome such a one is to welcome God himself. For our discipleship is not just about a relationship with just another person among many. It is about Jesus as Lord. It is about the foundation of our lives and the direction we walk. It is about who we are and what we are here for.

Just about every week we are welcoming families with their infants who have come for Baptism. As we welcome them we are helping them to see Christ present in our midst. Every week we experience the Church being renewed as we witness these people choosing to accept the call from Jesus to follow him.

Fr Graham